Blog: Eleanor Field on designing All of Me

Tue 15 Oct 2019

Midlands designer Eleanor Field has created the sets for a number of recent Made at Curve productions including Bollywood Jane, Zigger Zagger and Macbeth. As part of our New Work festival, Eleanor’s work will once again be seen on stage at Curve with All Of Me (Wed 16 Oct), an award-winning show about mental health and what can happen if we sit together in the darkness.

In this blog, Eleanor talks about designing the set for All Of Me and shares pages from her sketchbook which went on to form the final design for the show.


It is going to be tricky writing this ‘short piece’ about designing All Of Me. The ‘making it short’ is the tricky bit as this show involved a creation process unlike any I have experienced, one spanning nearly four years, I could write a book about it!

A sketchbook drawing for All Of Me – Eleanor Field

So, to try and sum it up: it was a design process of fluctuations – what a ‘designer’ thing to write, sorry. What I mean is the way we created the show required a mix of different approaches: the full production team would have phases of intense making, long days in rehearsal rooms together, followed by weeks where we would step back, reflect and communicate new ideas. As designer I would offer design ideas into the space for Caroline and Alex to explore and respond to – Caroline would send chunks of script and I would bring into the rehearsal room a visual world for her to explore – from sand pits to dust sheets to giant bubble mix to lamps to swathes of fabric. I never made a design model for a design presentation as the design process was formed of offerings and responses between all members of the creative team and we built the design around us as we developed the show. It wasn’t always easy, and successful collaboration shouldn’t always have to be. Team work on this level can be challenging but also so exciting. Looking at the production now, it still amazes me to see elements of the design and remember how it formed and the conversations and challenges that it came from.

A sketchbook drawing for All of Me – Eleanor Field

In making All Of Me there was also a constant flux in what form my role as designer took – shifting from days where I would offer big, sweeping design gestures into the space for Caroline to play with, to days when Caroline and Alex would be working through bits of the text requiring very specific things and I would be sent out with a shopping list. It is funny how much of the design process happened whilst wandering round the charity shops and hardware stores of Battersea, Birmingham or Stockton!

After the first phase of the project, which had been largely discussion-based, story sharing and delving into personal history, Caroline needed time to reflect on everything she had written without being distracted by more text-based ideas. So, we started a dialogue based on images – I would send nothing but sketchbook pages, drawing what I was thinking, responding to chunks of script, and I would send them over to her with no description or explanations – trusting her to find in them what was important. It was interesting how she discovered ideas in the drawings that were a slight side-step or an extension from my original ideas.

Inspiration images for All of Me – Eleanor Field

The way I create a design always changes from show to show, adapting to the requirements of the project and the people I am working with, but one constant is drawing. I draw everything. It is how I think and process ideas and figure out details. They are not always (possibly not ever) masterpieces, but they are useful visual communication of my ideas to collaborators and, just as importantly, to myself. The ones I have shared in this blog post are just a few from the years of working on All Of Me – perhaps you can see ideas in them which made it into the final production, but, even if it isn’t obvious how, every single sketchbook page fed into the final design as it started conversation and helped us explore the ideas that developed into All Of Me.